VRFocus have already reported on the challenges that are facing virtual reality (VR) and its continued development with regards to human vision and perception, but little so far has been said about the similar problems facing augmented reality (AR) as that area also continues to grow and develop. Graphics card manufacturers Nvidia are taking on that very issue.
Nvidia Inventions, the Research and Development area of Nvidia, are working on two areas that are relevant to VR and AR. The first involves what researchers have dubbed ‘varifocal displays’. As discussed by Michael Abrash in his Oculus Blog post, fixed-focus VR and AR displays can present a problem to human vision, using new research, Nvidia re working on a new type of optical layout that uses a holographic back-projection to display virtual images. This new technology could also lead to VR and AR displays that are thinner and lighter than currently available headsets.
Another project that Nvidia are working on in collaboration with the University of North Carolina, Saarland University and Max-Planck Institute involves a deformable membrane mirror for each eye which means the mirror can be adjusted depending on where a separate -eye-tracking system sees the user is looking.
Nvidia are also working on Haptic feedback systems to enhance the immersion of VR and AR. One prototype system is a VR controller that allows users to experience different textures as they play, its soft skin able to produce force-feedback as well as replicate the feel of different materials and textures.
The second project involves a squishy foam sword such as children might play with, which can transform in a moment to feel like the solid cord-wrapped handle of a katana, or the sold metal of a broadsword hilt. Nvidia have already integrated those two types of haptic controllers into its in-house VR Funhouse experience, so users can feel the solid hit of a mallet in whack-a-mole, or feel the recoil of a gun in a shooting gallery.
VRFocus will continue to bring you news of research into new VR/AR display and feedback methods.